Nelson-Holmberg-6-9-2015by Nelson Holmberg, Vice President, Innovation

These are exciting times at the Port of Ridgefield, and by extension, for our community, the Discovery Corridor and Clark County. We need to be in a strong infrastructure position. Connectivity is mission critical for the port.

Over the last two-and-a-half years, the port’s innovation initiative has pushed us into a new dynamic of our way of doing business. Armed with direction and investment from our commissioners, your port staff is leading a collaboration of eight Washington ports to advocate for access to federal dollars for broadband development that public agencies currently don’t have.

We are also out front in working with the Washington Public Ports Association on legislation that will allow all our ports to build broadband infrastructure that’s leased to the private sector companies who have the necessary expertise and equipment to provide services and content over our fiber.

The model has been working for nearly two decades in Whitman County, where the port took the risk of pioneering the model, and proved it to be valid. There are now 14 privately-held companies providing services on port-owned infrastructure in places like Pullman, Colfax, Garfield, and Tekoa in the Palouse. That’s better broadband opportunity than we currently have on the Interstate 5 corridor between Vancouver and Olympia.

This work became a priority for the port when businesses considering locating in Ridgefield told us that inadequate broadband capacity and speed was the main thing missing in the infrastructure offered here. They all noted that our transportation, sewer, water, and electricity infrastructure is exceptional, and makes the Discovery Corridor very attractive to them.

Add to this the fact that Clark College coming to Ridgefield in less than five years, and the port is working to create public-private partnerships that solve a serious problem.

Stay tuned to this section, and to our social media, for more updates as the project continues moving forward.